25 October, 2012

Further lessons in Coffee vs. Tea (by way of Acupuncture!)

My poor body.

In the past few weeks, I've had poison ivy, allergic reactions to medications (resulting in secondary infections, ugh), eczema from hand lotions (really?!), bloody noses, and extremely dry & chapped lips.

In addition to these symptoms, I've also been at extremely low energy levels. I have just enough to make it through the workday, and then I collapse onto the couch at home. Sometimes I can't even look at my computer for a few days, and my Archery exercises have dropped from 2-3 times per week to once per week.

What is going on with me?!

I crawled into my car and made my way down to one of my own healers, Niall,  for some much needed answers and a "body reset." 

In working with him, I discovered that skin conditions (and the excess dryness in my body) are related to Fire (in Chinese medicine). As he placed the needles at necessary points in my skin, I began to Journey, and ask my Spirits for healing. And this is what they had to say;

"...Hummingbird refills herself with Fire and Energy...longing for the wild solitude of the Woods...Chocolate!...take time for Silence...Release excess stuff so the Universe can refill...too much heat-- you need to explore an anti-inflammatory diet!...Red Quartz..."

(Yep, that is totally confusing, and usually how I hear the different voices in my head!)

But perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned in my self-healing work was the consequences of Coffee vs. Tea (if needed, read my previous plant shamanism posts). I have been using coffee to "refill" my Energy (spiritual energy, physical energy, mental energy), just like most other human beings! But coffee adds heat, and reduces water, and is inflammatory. My daily addiction was acutally causing many of the "overheated/over-Fire" symptoms I was experiencing!

So I've reduced my coffee way down, to only on weekends (7 days a week down to 2 days a week). And I've re-kindled my friendship with Green Tea:

Sacred Tea Plants, growing in China
Moderation is the key to Coffee's powerful Plant Medicine, and I need to remember that!

04 October, 2012

Plant Medicine and Food Allergies

As I discussed in my previous blog entry, I am learning about creating healing relationships with plants, and increasing plant medicine in my life (and my clients' lives).

I recently discussed the concept of Food Allergies with Howard Charing, during one of his lectures, and he gave a little bit of his philosophy on GMOs and the folly of messing around with plants and ecosystems. As that is a rather big topic to cover in just one blog entry, I will save it for a future article. However, he did highlight an interesting idea regarding food allergies: Howard stated that both genetic disorders (like Celiac Disease) and acquired food allergies point to a possible lesson from the specific plant.

"What is that plant trying to teach you? Why is it such a difficult lesson to learn? What function does that plant have in your life? What are you ignoring? Why are you afraid of working with that plant?"

Whoa! Tough medicine indeed!

A quick Google search shows that food allergies are everywhere, and are increasing at an exponential rate (not accounted for by population growth and better testing in labs). People can be born with food allergies, or become allergic to specific foods at a later time (sometimes after puberty, or a physical trauma, such as a car accident, pregnancy, etc.). In fact, 17 of the top 20 food allergens are plants!

What does this say about humanity's interaction with the Plant World? Sadly, not very good things (search for Monsanto, GMOs, pesticides, "The Happening" movie, etc.)...

To keep this light, and focused on self-healing, I decided to think about three plants that I interact with on a daily basis, and who give powerful medicine to the American public: coffee, tea, and wheat.

How many times have you heard, "Coffee is too strong for my stomach, but I need it anway!" or "I'm not complete without my iced coffee/tea in the morning!" or even "Pizza is my comfort food!"...? We've all said or heard something similar to this, especially if we grew up in the States. The magic surrounding these plants can lift someone out of a funk, or energize, or even create community among strangers (Starbucks, anyone?).

  1. Coffee: Ahh, the smell of freshly roasting coffee can stimulate the senses of just about anyone, whether you like the taste or not! I can think of a million different memes surrounding the necessity and evils of coffee, and most of my friends post them to Facebook daily :) America has created a very large and very specific type of "magic" around the abilities of coffee, and this "thought-form"* is unlike any other culture's. But what about the shamanic plant medicine of Coffee? What is the nature of the relationship it has with humans? What about your own relationship with coffee?
  2. Tea: Camellia Sinensis- the Latin name for one of my favorite plant medicines. This plant has been held sacred for years, in numerous cultures, and contains all four elements (air = steam, fire = heat, water = brew, earth = leaves). It takes time, patience, and focus to brew a perfect cup of tea, which are all lessons in and of themselves. However, the previous lessons are lost when the tea becomes over-sugared and over-processed, and just like another soft drink at McDonald's.
  3. Wheat: Comfort. That is the first word I think of, when I think of the smell of freshly baked bread, and in the States, almost all of our stereotypical "comfort foods" are made with wheat flour. But what happens to that loving comfort medicine when the wheat flour is over-modified, over-glutinous, and fried? How can the medicine hope to heal us then?
There are countless debates and worries about the genetic modification of food, and the chemical changes that occur during certain types of cooking, and I've always looked at those from a health perspective. But what about shamanically?

If a plant is offering a part of itself in relationship with humans, then that is the most perfect gift of healing. It can be difficult for the healing to take place if the plant has been modified or changed in a drastic way...

What plants are healing to you? And what plants do you have difficulty with? If you are learning how to interact with the world in a more shamanic way, then why not ask the plant itself?

*Though-form- This is a type of "created archetype" that is shared by a community, culture, age group, etc. The archetype gathers enough symbolism that eventually, it's presence/energy becomes part of the common knowledge of a society.